christine's bible study

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8

numbers 19:1-22, the law of the red heifer

Read Numbers 19:1-22:1 (annual cycle chukat) at Bible Gateway.

Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “This is the ordinance of the law which the Lord has commanded, saying: ‘Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring you a red heifer without blemish, in which there is no defect and on which a yoke has never come.

Numbers 19:1-2

Last year I posted the paragraph divisions and some of the chiastic structures found in this section of Torah; however, I was unable to find a single chiastic structure encompassing the whole parashah, because the passage of the law of the red heifer, it seemed to me, would not pair with anything else. I speculated at the time that it might be a central axis.

This year I do believe it is in fact a central axis for a greater structure encompassing several chapters in Numbers, perhaps even the central axis of the entire book. This is what I have uncovered so far:

Num 13:1-20:21

1a) Num 13:1-14:10 {p}, Moses sent twelve spies into Canaan + the evil report;
1b) Num 14:11-45 {p+p}, The unbelieving generation will not enter the Land;
— Num 15:1-41 {p+s+s+px3}, When you come into the Land (hope; chiastic structure through Num 18)
1c) Num 16:1-17:13, Rebellion and the rod of Aaron:
— 1c.1) Num 16:1-3, Korah et al gathered together against Moses and Aaron;
— 1c.2) Num 16:4-50 {sx3+p+s+p}, Moses fell on his face … the glory of the Lord appeared at the tabernacle;
— 1c.3) Num 17:1-13 {p+p+s}, The rod of Aaron / its miraculous sign (budded and bore almonds);
1d) Num 18:1-32 {p+s+p+p}, Aaron to attend to his priesthood that no more wrath (death) come upon Israel;
central axis) Num 19:1-9, Law of the red heifer without blemish and without yoke;
2d) Num 19:10-22 {p}, Eleazar and the priests: rites of purification from death (sin);
2c) Num 20:1-11, Murmuring and the rod of Moses:
— 2c.1) Num 20:1-5, Israel gathered together against Moses and Aaron;
— 2c.2) Num 20:6 {p}, Moses + Aaron fell on their faces at the door of the tabernacle / the glory of the Lord appeared;
— 2c.3) Num 20:7-11 {s}, The rod of Moses / its miraculous sign (water from the rock);
2b) Num 20:12-13 {s}, Because Moses did not believe, he will not bring the assembly into the Land;
2a) Num 20:14-21 {p}, Moses sent messengers to Edom + the evil report.

Of course the central axis, in fact the entire Num chapter 19, is packed with Messianic signs and themes, prophesying the gospel of grace from Torah!

There are a few loose ends within the structure. Num 15, especially the man who gathered sticks on the Sabbath, and the law of tzitzit are loose ends. I believe these are actually pairs with other elements in Torah, of an even greater structure encompassing several books of Torah, perhaps even the entire Torah itself! Be that as it may, isn’t it just like our great God of Love to immediately bring hope of the fulfillment of the promise, on the heels of the devastating news that it will be delayed for a little while yet? Israel IS going to enter the Land! And when you do, pay attention to the following details!

But with whole book chiastic structures, we have to look at the big picture. ♥

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